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‘Pakistan might move towards early polls’

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LAHORE: Pakistan’s Federal Interior Minister Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed confirmed that early general elections may be called in the country amid a possible political deadlock over the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

But Prime Minister Imran Khan invited the nation to join him on March 27 to reinstate the government’s stance against the “dacoits” ruling Pakistan for the last 30 years.

In a special message for the nation broadcast on television, social media and radio, the premier said that the “group of bandits” who have been looting the county for the last 30 years have joined hands in “auctioning the conscience of the elected public representatives.”

“They are practicing this publicly,” he said, adding that the people of Pakistan should join him on March 27 to convey their message that the nation is against evil.

He said that the people should tell the Opposition that the act of horse-trading being done from black money is “unacceptable” so that nobody dares to commit such crimes next time.

The premier asked the people of the country to “stand with the good” and “against evil”, urging them to show support.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore on Thursday, Shaikh Rasheed said that those members National Assembly (MNAs) who are switching loyalties should know early elections could be called in Pakistan.

“Those people who think switching parties will get them respect, they are wrong. They should keep in mind that early election could be called in Pakistan,” said Rasheed.

Rasheed’s comments come as the political temperature continues to move up, especially in Punjab and the Centre, after the Opposition filed a no-confidence motion against the premier.

The prime minister, however, has ruled out stepping down from office and vowed to counter every move the Opposition throws his way. But the joint Opposition has also claimed that the government’s allies whose support is crucial for PTI to stay in power have parted ways with the PTI.

The government’s ally in the Centre, the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), has assured PM Imran Khan of complete support ahead of the no-trust motion, while other allies — BAP, MQM-P, and PML-Q — are still indecisive.

Moving on, the interior minister said the nation would only hear “good news” from now, as he claimed that the government was also in talks with the Opposition members.

“We also have [support] from the Opposition members who will not vote during the no-confidence motion. We have the support of those Opposition members who are responsible,” Rasheed said.

The interior minister also told the “turncoats” that if they were of the view that switching parties would help them gain more respect, they were wrong “it isn’t like that”.

He also said that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was not going anywhere. “And just like me, he will stand with PM Imran Khan to the end.”

Rasheed said that he was not in touch with disgruntled PTI leader Jahangir Tareen whose group has made it clear whether they will support the PM or not.

“Jahangir Tareen is a good man, may God bless him with good health,” he said.

The interior minister also said that he has instructed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take prompt action against those maligning the military and the judiciary.

“Pakistan’s army is great,” the interior minister said, as he stressed the need for a stable military. “The establishment stands with Pakistan.”

‘No one will be allowed to take law into hands’

Talking about the PML-N’s “long-march”, the interior minister said that no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands.

“PML-N should provide us with their rally’s schedule. They have not yet provided us with their schedule, so if any ‘untoward incident’ takes place, the interior ministry will not be responsible,” he said.

Moreover, Rasheed said that he wanted to impose emergency and governor’s rule in Sindh, but PM Imran Khan refused to implement both options.

The interior minister made the suggestion after several PTI lawmakers who were residing in Sindh House came out in the open, saying they would vote against PM Imran Khan in the no-trust motion.

Rasheed said he was hopeful that the allies would support the government when the National Assembly votes on the no-confidence motion against the premier.

“The allies are taking time to decide, which is a good thing, as they should make a decision after deliberations,” he added.

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